The Difference Between a Flight Dispatcher and an Air Traffic Controller


People often mistake the job of a flight dispatcher with that of an air traffic controller, but these two are different professions with different roles in flight management procedures. For this reason we have created a list of differences between these professions.


  • The Flight Dispatcher usually works in the operation center of the airline or in the office.
  • The Air Traffic Controller usually works in the air traffic tower which is based in airport areas, sometimes radar rooms or even the ground can become their workplace .



Flight Dispatcher

A flight dispatcher is responsible for planning the route, which also involves checking the weather, various drifts, reading NOTAMS, listing the flight check points, and drafting the alternate flight route in case of an emergency situation.

Next, Flight Dispatchers must stay in contact with the pilots all throughout the flight informing them about any changes in weather, situations in air traffic, updates related to the flight destination. Also, they answer or help to solve any concerns or questions that pilots might face while in the air. In emergency situations, Flight Dispatchers must quickly come up with alternate routes and emergency landing approvals.

Sometimes flight dispatchers share responsibility for the exercise of operational control which gives them authority to divert, delay or cancel a flight.

A Flight Dispatcher provides all the necessary information and assistance in coordination with Air Traffic Control, Flight Service personnel, aircraft crew scheduling, maintenance control, and various company ground stations.

Air Traffic Controller

Controllers apply separation rules to keep aircraft at a safe distance from each other in their area of responsibility and move all aircraft safely and efficiently through their assigned sector of airspace, as well as on the ground.

They also manage communications by transferring control of departing flights to other traffic control centers and accepting control of arriving flights.

Air traffic controllers’ primary concern is safety, but they also must direct aircraft efficiently to minimize delays. They manage the flow of aircraft into and out of the airport airspace, guide pilots during takeoffs and landings, and monitor aircraft as they travel through the skies.

Air traffic controllers are also vital in case of an emergency. Their responsibilities involve maintaining contact with the pilots, providing aid to overcome any flight problems, providing flight path changes for bad weather and in extreme circumstances, directing pilots to a specific area for emergency landings, alerting airport response staff in case of an aircraft emergency.

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